Highlighting Brooklyn

North Brooklyn Branch YMCA-Twelve Town Center

570 Jamaica Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11208


About the North Brooklyn YMCA

Located in Brooklyn's diverse Cypress Hills neighborhood, the North Brooklyn YMCA was formed in the early 1990's by a merger of the Eastern District and Twelve Towns branches at the Twelve Towns location on 570 Jamaica Avenue. The Eastern District Branch, originally part of the Brooklyn and Queens Association, had a reputation for emphasizing the religious aspects of the Y's programs. Officially organized in 1889, the seeds of the Eastern District Branch were first planted the previous year when a group of 10 men met in the chapel of the Ross Street Church to propose the founding of a Young Men's Christian Association.

In the 1970's, the East Williamsburg neighborhood, home to the Eastern District Branch (located at 125 Humboldt Street), underwent a major demographic shift. By 1974, it was 40 percent Hispanic and 44 percent white, with a large population of Hasidic Jews. At the time, Williamsburg had high rates of unemployment and welfare, following major shifts in local industries. The branch residence had declining occupancy, and the neighborhood could no longer support the operation. These changes caused the branch to partner with the New York City Housing Authority, which provided the Eastern District with cost-free space in the Borinquen Center, in return for the YMCA's personnel and programs. Along with another program it ran for youth and seniors in the Jonathan Williams Houses Center, the Eastern District became a leader in the development of new community housing.

In the 1980s, YMCA youth programs focused largely on prevention of teenage crime and social problems. In 1985, the Eastern District YMCA began coordinating a multi-agency program to cope with a high rate of teen pregnancy in the community, and it showed excellent results in helping to avert pregnancies among participants. The North Brooklyn Branch also opened a school-based community center under the Police Department’s "Safe Streets, Safe City" program, in which the Prospect Park Y also participated.

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